The Life and Death of Baal

Mark S. Smith

in The Origins of Biblical Monotheism

Published in print August 2001 | ISBN: 9780195134803
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834655 | DOI:
The Life and Death of Baal

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A particularly unusual case of divine death is examined in this chapter; this exception is the god Baal, who is considered to be a classic example of Sir James George Frazer’s category of “dying and rising gods.” The methodology and viability of Frazer’s claim is addressed as it has been applied to Baal of Ugarit. Here the author has been influenced by Jonathan Z. Smith’s massive critique of Frazer's category of dying and rising gods, as well as by recent studies on ritual and myth. The chapter also ventures a constructive step in the interpretation of Baal’s death: if Baal is not to be regarded as a dying and rising god, what is the significance of his death and return to life? Finally, it looks briefly at the mythology of death and the god of Israel.

Keywords: Baal; divine death; divinity; dying and rising gods; Israelite deities; myth; religious history; ritual; Ugaritic deities

Chapter.  14752 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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